(CTN News) – In this first story, we focus on solving environmental problems affecting us. Microplastics pose a threat to all ecosystems on our planet, including the human body.
The first synthetic plastics were created from oil byproducts in the 20th century, which led to the development of this problem. In today’s world, they are found in rivers, lakes, beaches, oceans, and even in the polar regions.
During the decomposition process, small particles are produced.
Those particles are known as microplastics when they are smaller than five millimeters, according to Henry Brice, Research Professor at Florida International University’s Southeast Environmental Research Center.
This microplastic is not only present in the bay, but it is present everywhere. It is present in the sediment as well.
As Estefany Carvajal explained, “In our oceans, we have things such as filter feeders that filter the water, which enables them to feed.” In other words, when these microplastics dissolve in our oceans and in our waters, organisms that consume those filter feeders will cause them to bioaccumulate up the food chain. Actually, we consume them already. In approximately one week, we consume approximately the amount of microplastic equivalent to a credit card.”
Every minute, the equivalent of a truckload of plastic is poured into the oceans by the Plastic Oceans International Organization. Climate and environmental factors break down plastic waste, such as bags, bottles, or textile fibers, into smaller pieces, which end up in the ocean.
According to the CDC, these products contain additives such as forever chemicals, which can cause certain types of cancer.
The microplastics are found not only in the water and at the seabed, but also in many organisms,” Briceño continued. The microplastics accumulate in these organisms as they pass from snail to fish to humans. Due to this, we consume microplastics, which contain harmful chemicals.
Due to technological limitations, the scientific community refers to it as an invisible pollutant.
Maria Donoso, the UNESCO Chair at Florida University’s Southeast Environmental Research Center, tells NBC6, “We are in the process of developing standards, such as for various microplastic components. When they exceed a certain magnitude, this amount becomes hazardous for humans or aquatic animals, as well as birds that feed on these animals.”
With the assistance of the Environmental Protection Agency, Florida International University scientists have undertaken a project called BBLAST to identify the main sources of plastic pollution in Biscayne Bay.
Henry Briceño explained, “It is a two-year project. We will be examining two main issues that we will be dealing with — plastic movement within the bay. So, it is not only in the bay that they come from, but also in the coral reef and the ocean, and that they accumulate. It goes all the way.”
We are currently in the initial phase of the research after a few months of preparation.
If they are able to trace back the origin of plastic waste in our local waters, and if they can prevent it, what can be done to prevent it? There will be a series of stories on ‘Planet in Crisis: Solutions‘ that will examine those topics.